Featherweight, Megaton Title Fights Added to Deep ‘55 Impact’

By Chris Nelson Jul 8, 2011
Next month, Koichiro Matsumoto will put his Deep featherweight belt on the line against once-beaten Tatsunao Nagakura. It will be Matsumoto’s first title defense and, according to him, his last.

Deep promoter Shigeru Saeki announced Friday that Matsumoto (pictured, file photo) and Nagakura will square off Aug. 26 in one of the main attractions of Deep “55 Impact” at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. Shortly after the matchup was made public during a press conference inside Deep Official Gym Impact, Matsumoto declared that, win or lose, he will walk away from the ring to pursue his other passion: comedy.

Matsumoto admitted that his decision to retire from MMA at age 25 was influenced by a “frustrating” May 29 stoppage loss to “Lion” Takeshi Inoue in Dream, Matsumoto’s first defeat at featherweight and the end of a five-fight win streak. However, the Tokushima native revealed that a career in showbiz has been in his sights for years. Prior to becoming a mixed martial artist, Matsumoto enrolled in a developmental course at NSC (New Star Creation), a school run by Japanese entertainment conglomerate and talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo.

“Before, I was part of a comedy duo with a friend,” said Matsumoto. “He graduated in March and came up to Tokyo, and so we’ve decided to reform the duo and try again.”

But, before he can leave for the stage, Matsumoto will have to deal with Nagakura, a former Deep Future King lightweight tournament winner who returns from a 13-month hiatus brought on by a ruptured Achilles tendon. Nagakura, Yoshida Dojo’s resident rugby player, holds a 6-0 record in the Deep ring, with all six wins coming by way of first-round TKO. The 27-year-old’s lone loss came in a quick April 2010 thumping from veteran Akihiko Mori.

Also added to “55 Impact” on Friday was a Deep megaton (super-heavyweight) title bout between defending champ Kazuhisa Tazawa and Georgian judoka Levan Razmadze. Both men enter having won three straight, with the Yoshida Dojo-trained Razmadze unbeaten in his five-month-old MMA career.

In a match with implications for the vacant Deep middleweight title, onetime champ Ryuta Sakurai will take on slumping Kazushi Sakuraba pupil Katsuyori Shibata. Meanwhile, Dream and K-1 vet Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata will meet Yoshida Dojo’s Tatsumitsu Wada at featherweight, and Cage Force import Motoki Miyazawa will clash with Yasushi Kitazaki at welterweight.

Previously announced participants Mizuto Hirota, Ryuta Noji and Amanda Lucas remain without opponents.
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